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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Brush piles and mesh cages protect blue oak seedlings from animals


Oak tree branches piled over acorn-seeded blue oaks were tested as protection against cattle and deer. The piles remained in place and apparently free of cattle and deer for 8.5 years, until a wildfire destroyed the branches. Before the fire in 1996, seedlings in the brush had similar survival rates but grew significantly faster than seedlings with no brush. Seedling survival and growth rates declined sharply after the fire, although the surviving trees regained their prefire heights in 3 years. Cages made of aluminum window screening, as protection from small animals, significantly increased seedling survival and growth rates. Growth rates over the 12 years of the trial averaged only about 0.5 to 1 inch per year.

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